Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hi, I'd like to introduce you to Mee Siam

This is Mee Siam. She's from Singapore. She's spicy, soothing, high in cholesterol, is delicate (noodles) yet heavy (gravy). Poor Mee Siam. Very few people know of her. She doesn't get the same attention as her popular Singaporean siblings, Laksa and Hainanese Chicken Rice. I don't know of any place in Los Angeles that serves her. But she's my sister's favorite. So when she flew in from Paris last week (sister, not mee siam), my mom invited the family over for dinner. And for one rare night, she was the guest of honor (mee siam, not sister).

Mee siam is fried vermicelli noodles (bee hoon) topped with hard boiled eggs, tofu, sprouts and shrimp, and doused with a spicy gravy. Apparently the Malaysian version omits the gravy which IMO is the best part of the dish. Mee siam means Siamese noodles, however it's not a Thai dish. It's commonly found in Singapore and parts of Malaysia. The recipe below is from my neighbor in Singapore (Mrs. Liau) and it's measured in the metric system. Sorry, it's more authentic that way (actually, I'm just too lazy to convert, sorry!)

Mom doesn't skimp on the shrimp and hard boiled eggs. I did warn you, it's high in cholesterol.

The gravy is made with prawn stock and soy bean paste. It's spicy and has a tinge of sourness from the tamarind.

You gotta wash down spicy food with mimosas. Alright, I know that's a weird combo but in my home, bubbly is the drink of choice.

Mom also made another household favorite, Beef rendang.

When she's cooking for the family, she makes her version with beef tendon instead of meat. She'll make a meat version if we have guests. Thankfully we were all family that night so tendon it was. She also made it extra extra spicy, just the way we like it. The tendon was cooked to a point that the cartilage was broken down and almost got to a gooey consistency.

For the caucasians in the family, mom also made some non-spicy safe food. Boy are they missing out.

Mixed greens with miso dressing and croutons. You know, that large box of greens from Costco? Well, you're getting that if you cannot handle spicy mee siam and spicier tendons.

Fried rice with Chinese sausage, shrimp and vegetables.

Cooking up some shellfish for seafood pasta- yet another safe dish.

The seafood was topped with tomato sauce and there you go, the fastest dish ever.

For dessert, almond toffee from my Aunt Cindy's store Haven & Co. in Brentwood. Addictive but the sweetness is welcomed after a spicy meal.

Mee Siam Recipe
From Evelyn Liau

Bee Hoon:
1/4 cup oil
30g dried prawns, finely ground
1 cup sambal tumis

2 chicken stock cubes
2tsp salt
3 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cup water

800g bee hoon, soaked in water for 1/2 hr and drained
2kg bean sprouts, washed and drained

A. Heat oil. Fry dried prawns on low heat till fragrant. Add sambal tumis. Mix well. Set aside half of the fried mixture to make gravy.

B. Add to the remaining half of the fried mixture from A. Bring to boil.

C. Add bee hoon and top with bean sprouts. Do not stir too often but cook until gravy is almost absorbed. Fry with the help of chopsticks, mix bee hoon and bean sprouts evenly. Reduce heat and fry slowly till bee hoon is dry and fluffy. Remove to cool on large tray.

Prawn Stock:
1kg prawns
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 litre water

Bring water to a boil. Add prawns and boil for 6 to 7 minutes to cook. Remove prawns to a basin of iced water. Drain and remove shells. Slice each prawn length-wise and set aside for garnishing. Use the prawn stock for the gravy.

2 litres water
1 litre prawn stock fried mixture from A
3 tbsp taucheo (fermented soy bean paste), finely ground
4 tbsp sugar
2 big onions, thinly sliced
125g tamarind paste, soaked in 1 cup water, squeezed and strained
2 chicken stock cubes
4 tbsp peanut butter

Bring all ingredients to boil for 20 minutes. Reduce to moderate heat and simmer for another 15 minutes. Season according to taste. Pour into a deep serving bowl.

Cooked prawns from prawn stock
12 hard boiled eggs, sliced
4 big tau kwa (bean curd), fried and sliced
125g chives, chopped
10 small green limes, halved

To serve, place the bee hoon on a large serving plate. Arrange garnishing on a tray with compartments. Put fried bee hoon into individual bowls, garnish and add gravy. Serve hot.


Banana Wonder said...

Can I come over for dinner next time? Will bring bubbly and spanakopita :)

bagnatic said...

did not have this when i was in singapore. looks like a cross between pilipino pancit and chinese fried noodles. anyways, tasty! love homecooked meals and bubbly drinks.

stuffycheaks said...

Anna - Most definitely :) I think I'd have to learn up the recipes from my mom but she DID just give me her cookbook...

bagnatic - yah, so many other good things in Singapore so usually people tend to order the usual suspects.